Published on March 2nd, 2012 | by Greg0
Home Movies In 3D: A Mixed Bag
We're pretty confident that everyone who saw Avatar came out wondering, "when will my home movies be able to look like this?" Not so much the special effects or makeup- we'll stick with the Blue Man Group for body painting, thanks- but the 3D technology. Of course, not everything is better with that extra dimension, and if you think professionally edited films can make you a bit dizzy, wait until you've tried filming a party yourself.
So, we approached the DXG 5F9V HD 1080p 3D Camcorder with a mix of wonder and skepticism. We've tried out their cameras before- three of them in fact, from the Luxe series to the A80V that we liked and found a solid bargain. They might not be a name familiar to many people, but they do have one of the few 3D video cameras on the market, and certainly the only one we've seen in the price range.
And, indeed, you get to film in three-dimensions, with decent video quality. But the camera is certainly not without it's share of flaws and foibles. Much like the A80V, it can film at 30 fps at 1080p or 60 frames per second at 720p- though it's important to note that the end result in 3D is half that resolution, since the frames are split. We liked the screen quite a bit- no glasses needed- and the camera isn't that bulky or heavy. Filming does take some getting used to, though, and it's made harder by a design flaw. While other DXG cameras can tilt the screen for easy viewing during filming, the dual lens system sticks out beyond the body in this model and blocks the screen from rotating.
As we've seen in the past, the audio quality is pretty poor- barely better than your smartphone, frankly. There's no optical zoom- only a 4x digital zoom which we recommend avoiding but was better than some we've seen. And there isn't any image stabilization, so a good steady hand is important- or better yet, a tripod. We tried out some samples through a 3D TV via the handily-included HDMI cable. Of course, not everyone will have access to one of these fairly new televisions, and the process does require the camera to be plugged in and turned on. But our random test shots and takes looked decent, with surprisingly good color balance, clarity, and a fair bit of depth to the image. There is no way that we could find to convert these images to the common red/blue format, instead requiring stereoscopic viewing. And the included software is terrible- we couldn't really get it to work- but the files are encoded to H.264, AVI, which makes them a breeze to upload to YouTube (and they do a very good job of conversion as well).
Battery life was decent, though you'll need to remove the battery to recharge it. Memory is handled via SD cards- the onboard storage of 128 MB is essentially useless, and we suggest getting a big, high-speed SD card. If you've already invested in a 3D television, it's definitely worth trying out this guy- it's worth the bit of practice, patience and little bit of additional investment (if you don't already have an SD card an a tripod). As an entry-level camcorder, it's fun.
We wouldn't suggest it to those who don't specifically need the feature though. Here are some samples, though they won't look like much without a capable monitor or display- note the 3D in the lower right of the video. At $240 or so, available online now, it's a great first attempt at a consumer-level ready-to-go 3D videocam, and we can't wait to see better software and future upgrades to the line as the technology becomes more widely available.